Among many other things, it looks like we’re in for a slew of wackily enjoyable, anachronistic musical numbers this fall on American Horror Story: Freak Show. In last week’s premiere, Jessica Lange delivered a gutsy rendition of David Bowie’s Life on Mars, and in tonight’s “Massacres and Matinees,” Sarah Paulson completely slays Fiona Apple’s Criminal, brandishing a set of singing chops that immediately makes Dot (in a delicious twist, one sister has a gorgeous voice while the other does not) Elsa’s least favorite of the twins.
And yet, such are the levels of insanity on Freak Show that Elsa’s immature stage jealousy and the consequent origins of a sure-to-be disastrous diva rivalry are being firmly kept at side-plot status. On this week’s creepy and crazy installment, new additions to the freak show throw the performers for a loop, Twisty the demented clown killer makes an equally demented new friend, and Jimmy Darling finds a new reason to fight (RIP Meep, you sadistic, chick-eating little weirdo).
Perhaps the most important elements of the season introduced tonight were menacing strong-man Dell Toledo (Michael Chiklis) and his three-boobed wife Desiree Dupree (Angela Bassett). Being one of the few people in the world who liked No Ordinary Family (and one of many who loved The Shield, but for some odd reason that short-lived ABC show is what comes more readily to mind), I was very excited to see Chiklis join the freak show. And tonight, Dell didn’t disappoint. After making a bee-line for Elsa’s tent, ostensibly in hopes of joining the freak show but actually more interested in taking over, he wastes no time in revealing himself as a bit of a brute, not above using his brawn to intimidate or incapacitate any challengers to his authority.
Dell is also Jimmy’s father by bearded woman Ethel, a distinction that the strong-man doesn’t seem to think entitles Jimmy to any sort of preferential treatment. In fact, as we see in this episode, being related to Dell might be even more dangerous than having no background with the guy – he almost snapped baby Jimmy’s neck for the sins of basically crying and having fused fingers, and he’s not above threatening his ex with bodily harm for greeting him less than warmly.